Wilders' PVV wants law dictating Zwarte Piet in blackface only weeks before election
The lower house of Dutch parliament is discussing a PVV legislative proposal today that wants to ensure that Zwarte Piet keeps his blackface makeup. According to initiator Martin Bosma, "for years there's been a war against Zwarte Piet" and that has to stop, the Telegraaf reports.
According to the PVV parliamentarian, politicians like PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher are trying to destroy this part of Dutch heritage and children's friend. "That has to stop. Zwarte Piet is a tradition in the Netherlands that we should be proud of. It is total nonsense to connect Zwarte Piet with racism or slavery." Bosma said.
The PVV's Zwarte Piet law says that municipalities are only allowed to participate in Sinterklaas celebrations, including the traditional arrival, if the Zwarte Piets are black or dark brown. Piets with rainbow faces or soot marks are thereby taboo.
This Zwarte Piet proposal comes less than a month before the parliamentary elections on March 15th. Political polls show Geert Wilders and his PVV losing support over the past weeks - the party lost five seats in the polls since December and is now only two seats larger than 2nd biggest party in the polls, the VVD.
Unfortunately for the supporters of this bill, there seems little chance that it will make it through the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament. The legislative proposal has little support. "This is a public debate, not a political one", ruling party VVD said about the color of Zwarte Piet. Coalition partner PvdA agrees. "We should not legally regulate how people celebrate Sinterklaas", parliamentarian Joyce Vermue said to the Telegraaf.
Last year the Tweede Kamer unanimously rejected a previous version of the PVV's Zwarte Piet law. The proposal also elicited a response from the Council of State, which advised the government to reject this law outright. According to the Council, the only role government and municipalities must play in this matter is to ensure that cultural events organized by citizens are managed properly and to make sure that public order and safety are maintained. "They have no no involvement in the content of such events."